From moments of light and joy to an introspective bout with darkness and introspection, the newly released dance film 'True' takes viewers on an emotional journey courtesy of the international dancer and choreographer Laura Arend and the creative and filmmaking talents of Blonde + Co Director Julie Stahl.
The film is an original content piece produced by Blonde + Co, a New York-based content creation studio which has long partnered with top global brands in realms of fashion, beauty and lifestyle. The studio, led by Stahl, with Executive Producer Victor Larue, partnered with Arend’s dance company, Laboration Art Company, on the piece.
The film invites its audience to share the journey of this young woman, who’s stuck between two worlds—one pulling her to light, the other pushing her into darkness. As we’ll see, her true destination is not always self-evident.
It opens with a stunning shot of Arend silhouetted against a bright blue New York City skyline; she seems angelic, bathed in light with billowing white chiffon that appears almost like wings. The lilting, melodic soundtrack, provided by Audio Network, casts an ethereal mood.
We next see her in a variety of movements, dancing with light as she moves along the roof of the Ace Hotel. Then, a shift happens, and the white attire is gone, replaced by form-fitting black that blends in with the de-saturated background. The music becomes edgy and jarring, matching the action on screen. As her movements become tortured and jerky—the result of both in-camera and editing effects—she writhes across the surface, seemingly driven by pain and anguish. She then ascends a ladder and loops one of her garments around one its rungs, then around her neck just as a helicopter appears.
We transition from this moment to a return to light; our dancer is again high atop a structure, framed against the sky, slowly rising from a crouching position to embrace the light and air with her arms outstretched, leaving the audience to draw its own conclusions.
Its creators describe the film as “a young woman’s journey to find truth, lost between reality and altered states of consciousness.” Adds Stahl, “We wanted to create this concept of two worlds, and we staged both segments in ways to heighten that sense of light and dark—inspired by the beautiful skyline and the graffiti, industrial elements, iconic water tower and the grittiness of the tar roof.”
The project was undertaken as both a creative endeavor and a showcase for the company’s ability to develop original films that can prove attractive for brands wishing to connect in a more organic way with the films’ audiences. Totally improvised, it’s is the culmination of a long period of creative gestation between Arend and Blonde + Co Executive Producer Victor Larue, a former dancer himself.
Arend’s company, Laboration Art Company, was founded in 2013 and has created works performed in the US, Israel and across Europe. Trained in France, Arend herself has an impressive CV that includes performing with the Merce Cunningham company as well as with top dance troupes both in America and abroad. She’s danced with the Judith Sanchez Ruiz Company, the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company and the French company F521.i, and her choreography has been presented as part of the dance program at New York’s Judson Church. In addition to leading Laboration Art Company, she performs with such leading independent choreographers as Oz Mulay and Laura Lipko.
Arend and Larue had danced together previously and knew they wanted to partner on a creative project. They approached the Ace Hotel, which has a history of promoting art and fashion in New York. With a short shoot day and limited crew, the process was itself an exercise in improvisation, says Larue. “Making ‘True’ was really an opportunity for the entire team to work under very constrained parameters, in terms of location, budget and resources,” he notes. “It was a chance to demonstrate how you can create under pressure, and still come up with work that’s compelling and insightful.”
This approach mirrors the kinds of independent creative projects Blonde + Co is pursuing at the moment, as well as demonstrates to potential brand clients that the studio is both agile and highly imaginative.